Velocity Restorations 1970 Ford Bronco Review: Capably Luxurious Vintage Off-Roader

It’s a lot of money. But then again, it’s a lot of fun, too.

byPeter Nelson|
The Velocity Restorations Ford Bronco
Peter Nelson
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The market for restomod vehicular creations is ever-expanding. In fact, it seems like any enthusiast platform with more than 20 die-hard fans can be had with a ground-up refresh and modern powertrain. But certain staples are well-established and on many well-heeled folks' wishlists, with the classic '60s and '70s Ford Bronco hanging out near the top of those lists.

These boxy American icons are well within the purview of Florida-based Velocity Restorations, a shop that takes restomodding quite seriously and, of course, charges accordingly. Recently, I had the pleasure of taking these folks' Signature Series 1970 Black Midnight Edition Ford Bronco for a hearty spin across California's Ventura County. As far as climbing aboard and going for a massive-smile-filled spin, fewer vehicles of any type or era have done so as effectively as this near-$300,000 piece of rolling craftsmanship.   

Peter Nelson
Velocity Restorations 1970 Ford Bronco Specs
Price as Tested$292,400
Powertrain5.0-liter V8 | 10-speed automatic | four-wheel drive
Horsepower470
Torque420 lb-ft
Quick TakeA street-able trophy truck fit for a John Steinbeck novel.
Score9/10

The Build

$292,400 is a lot of money. No, scratch that—it's an obscene amount of money. But after running through the specs, it starts to make some sense. First, that figure includes the price of the donor Bronco, and a decent example isn't exactly cheap these days. Taking a look at the body, interior, and underbelly, it’s evident that every nut and bolt has been taken into consideration and restored. Everything that can be crafted by hand, is.

The gapless, perfectly aligned bodywork is flawless and sprayed in multiple coats of Black Glasurit paint, which sits atop a masterpiece of a tig-welded and properly coated frame. The amount of time given to the paintwork isn't something that should be overlooked, either. The high-gloss, deep finish was such a joy to photograph in bright, midday SoCal sun. All new glass and weather seals are fitted, and a six-point roll cage is thrown in for modernized peace of mind. Speaking of safety equipment, a massive aluminum fuel tank is welded together in-house and fitted as well.

Peter Nelson

Long-travel reservoir Bilstein dampers bolt up to each corner with extra long coil springs, giving the Bronco a sturdy, 2.5-inch lift. These attach to a Dana 44 axle at the front and Ford nine-inch at the rear. The massive Wilwood motorsport-grade brakes are hydroboost assisted rather than vacuum, lending to a reassuringly firm pedal.

Finally, Velocity threw on a set of 17-inch Method Race wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires. This package does the trick, but considering the price, I would've expected a more unique style by HRE, MetalFX, or another higher-end mark.

Peter Nelson

The Finer Details

After driving VR's gorgeously upholstered F-250 last fall, I was especially looking forward to basking in this Bronco's interior. The Florida shop pays a lot of attention to every material used, and it certainly shows.

No disappointments, here: The rich, Velocity Signature Hickory leather seats, dashboard, door cards, and center console are extremely nice to the the touch. It's a harder, more durable hide but looks and feels so good and matches its thin-rim wood and metal steering wheel quite well. Carpeting is a minimal, loosely woven material, most likely to provide ambiance and luxury yet be easy to clean dirt out of. If you want Bentley-level material quality in an open-top off-roader, your dream has come.

The instrument cluster is the same simple readout as in that F-250, though the stereo is an Alpine unit that looks a tad out of place. I'm surprised Velocity didn't go with a more period-accurate piece here. The Ididit tilt steering column and custom dash's polished metallic controls felt quite substantial, and every other metallic surface was coated in a durable material, undoubtedly to deal with any water, sand, dirt, or mud that will inevitably make its way in if customers really want to use the Bronco as intended. Which they really ought to.

Peter Nelson

Driving the Velocity Restorations Bronco

With the sun high over the upper northwest corner of Southern California, it was an absolutely perfect day to take the bikini-topped Bronco for a spirited drive. To make things even more perfect, this short-wheelbase Ford is brimming with a sense of occasion. The seating position is upright to bolster its panoramic view in all directions, and the noise it emits is utterly glorious; VR did an excellent job making the raucous Ford Coyote V8 ever-entertaining but never too much. Surprisingly, wind noise wasn't bad below 60 mph (there was plenty at higher speeds, but no surprise there), and I always knew where the revs were at thanks to its twin polished exhaust pipes sitting just a couple feet behind my ears. In terms of building an authentically fun runabout, Velocity hit all of its marks.

Unlike VR's Ford F-250 that I drove last fall, this Bronco had a very involved driving experience. My hands were always busy making micro-adjustments with the thin, wood-outlined steering wheel, especially across bumpier worn-out blacktop. It didn't report on much in regards to microscopic road topography and was incredibly light. In more modern fare, this would make for a less-than-ideal driving experience, but in the high-riding old Bronco, its character was perfect. I dug the old-fashioned throwback experience, and when combined with its very short wheelbase, massive 285/70/17 BFGoodrich KO2s, and Bilstein off-road suspension, it was fun to hustle through bumpy, sun-beaten winding roads that snake through scenic hillside orchards situated below massive mansions. It felt like I was driving through the pages of a John Steinbeck novel.

This resto isn't exactly designed for such service, but it performed admirably nonetheless; I had too much fun seeing how much cornering speed the BFGs could put up with. The short wheelbase and high ride height made it a very dramatic—albeit perfectly safe—experience. Body roll wasn't bad considering its off-road-ready setup, and while riding over as little as a pebble caused its soft top framing to squeak and shudder, the rest of it felt very solid and planted. Especially considering the teeny distance between its axles. It also had a generally comfortable ride quality across all surfaces thanks to its suspension and tire combo.

Then, once the road straightened out, its 5.0-liter V8 heart was a true riot to rev out. Velocity says this unit produces 470 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque to the tires and is mated to Ford's 10-speed 10R80 gearbox with four-wheel drive engaged. While I didn't time any launches—and VR hasn't published such data—it was one of the most visceral and dramatic longitudinal g-force events I have ever experienced. 

It’s not as prodigiously speedy as, say, a modern German launch control-equipped sports car but it is brutal—the whole car leaned back and filled my line of sight with blue sky, and the busy steering got a hell of a lot busier. The Coyote's roar was nothing short of glorious. This truck demanded a bit more concentration than I'm used to in such a scenario, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t worth it. 

I've never driven a purpose-built trophy truck, but I'm willing to bet green money that the Velocity Restoration Bronco's overall theatrics come a lot closer to what those feel like than a lot of other street-able fare. It also never got old—every chance I got to send its tach needle to redline, I just couldn't contain my laughter.

And goddamn was it a rapid experience. While the 10-speed auto got a little confused figuring out the right gear for moderate around-town acceleration (Sidenote: it does this in almost every Ford vehicle it's found in from the factory), it knew exactly how to bang-off shifts with my foot pressed firmly to the floor. Thankfully, any obscene level of speed was easy to shave off due to those big Wilwood brakes.

A Great Twentieth Car

Let's say it again: nearly $300,000 is a hell of a lot of money. But considering nothing but the best was used to craft together Velocity Restoration's Signature Series 1970 Ford Bronco, it starts to make some sense. 

Remember: Velocity’s clients are buying one of these as their third, fifth, or twentieth car, hitched up at either their second, third, or fifth estate. And honestly, for those looking for a machine with this unique of a driving experience, a seemingly limitless sense of occasion, the ability to rip off the line like a damn trophy truck, and, y'know, fire up every time, one could do far, far worse.

And let's face it: As the era of appliance-like EVs slowly sneaks up on us, get in while the gettin''s good. If you can afford it.

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